. . . described by some as a "group of smart, passionate people working flat-out for environmental and social justice", called by others " a public interest environmental think tank in the grassroots mode, lean on spending and long on accomplishments. . ."
The Institute is a non-profit, public interest organization committed to the health and sustainability of ecosystems and their inhabitants. It seeks to engage in projects that foster respect for and protection of the rights and health of all communities. The Institute focuses its efforts on understanding and sharing information about environmental, human rights and human health, and economic impacts of technology and intellectual property policies. The current emphasis of its programs is on: (a) biosafety and the legally-binding international regulation of modern technologies, b) intellectual property rights and just policies for the maintenance and protection of biodiversity, including policies that foster recognition and sustenance of agricultural biodiversity, and (c) exploration of the ethical implications of new technologies.
The Institute does research, answers inquiries from people the world over, publishes policy analysis and scientific thought pieces, distributes the best information it can discover, sponsors public workshops, provides speakers to university and community audiences, and brings expert witnesses who share the concerns of the Institute as well as persons whose lives have been affected by technology policies to national events and to international bodies engaged in decision-making. It also disseminates information about and criticism of technology assessment, encourages pro bono research and policy analysis by scientists and scholars, and seeks to create alliances and coalitions with like-minded organizations and individuals.
As an observer organization regularly participating in the processes related to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Institute, its representatives and associates, have for years worked to help create an international legally binding biosafety protocol.
Working through a small board of directors, an unpaid executive director, several pro bono scientists and lawyers, a few volunteers, and extensive networks and coalitions, the Institute has:
* Published several reports and papers on biosafety, including white papers by scientists from universities in the United States and Europe, and the much-acclaimed, group-authored, and peer-reviewed Manual for Assessing Ecological and Human Health Effects of Genetically Engineered Organisms. (click here).
* Brought out a series of occasional papers, pamphlets, audiotapes, and information sheets examining various aspects of modern technologies (click here).
* Commented on environmental, legal and ethical impacts of new technologies and related proposals to various public agencies (e.g. EPA, USDA, National Academy of Science, Patent and Trademark Office).
* Given workshops and lectures on biosafety and the social and ethical impacts of new technologies to audiences in the United States, Spain, India, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, U.K., Colombia, Indonesia, and other places.
* Distributed technical and policy information to scientists, policy makers, academics, non-governmental organizations, and concerned individuals around the globe, answering information requests from over 150 countries and almost every state in the U.S.
* Duplicated and sent free to scientists and regulators in the Global South and in Central and Eastern Europe books and videotapes on methods of biosafety assessment. Used special grants and donated royalties to make available complimentary copies of Genetically Engineered Organisms: Assessing Environmental and Human Health Effects - a compendium of biosafety research published by CRC Press and featuring peer-reviewed chapters by scientists who have done cutting edge research in botany, entomology, plant pathology, and other agricultural and environmental sciences. Among the book’s authors: Drs. Joy Bergelson, David Andow, Terrie Klinger, Alison Power, John Losey, Andrew Spielman, William Muir, Anne Kapuscinski, Gunther Stotsky, and others..
* Taken the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to court to test whether those agencies violated public trust doctrine, common sense, and their responsibilities of stewardship in Yellowstone National Park by making agreements with private corporations to access and commercialize the biodiversity of that national park (click here).
* Briefed environmental, academic, and community organizations and members of the press around the world on biosafety, biodiversity, benefit sharing and patenting issues.
* Written articles for publication in popular and academic journals in the U.S. and other countries.
* Maintained and managed listservers for various audiences concerned about biological and cultural diversity and the impacts of new technologies.